The human brain is hardwired to resist change because it interprets shifts as a form of threat. At the beginning of the lockdown, we had to prepare ourselves mentally and physically for “sheltering at home” and the turbulence that followed. Companies innovated and improvised. In India, on the up side, we saw bluer skies ! 2021 brings with it challenges if it’s own. As we prepare to return to office, health organizations advise that we follow some workplace safety rules that will protect employees and their family.
Employees and their emotional wellbeing
In order to adopt to a new “normal” and restore productivity human resources departments must pay heed to their employees mental health and the trauma they might have undergone over the past year. The hangover of depression, anxiety, stress and substance use over the past year would require companies to keep therapists and doctors on stand-by and destigmatize services to better help employees to cope.
Flexible working hours
Most companies worldwide are offering their employees the option of flexible work hours in the first few weeks of returning to work. Giving employees the option of remote work on certain days, in order to cope with their children still studying-from home, goes a long way in reducing stress, especially for dual-income house-holds.
Priming employees to prepare them
When employees are primed about what to expect such as, the new topography of the workplace; this includes photographs of socially distanced desks, restrooms and collaborative corridors with new safety precautions, it helps in mentally preparing them for the new normal. It also gives them the assurance that the company is taking adequate precautions for their health and safety.
Corporate “infrastructure” responsibility
Corporations that need to get at least 30% of their employees back to working at office must also consider infrastructural changes including proper ventilation, good filtration and humidity. This would ensure that employees felt safeguarded and valued by their management. It would also ensure that employees return to work with lesser resistance.
Manager training to recognize mental health concerns
It is vital that managers are trained in risk assessment for their team health. This includes a non-judgmental attitude, openness and an escalation matrix in case of a mental health crisis in am employee.
Human resources personnel must make sure to communicate effectively and clearly why some people are returning to work but not others. This is in keeping with non-discriminatory policies and practices that form an integral part of work culture. For employee well-being, psychologists advise focussing on living with peace and dignity in the midst of difficulties, because change is the law of life and adaptation guarantees not just surviving but thriving.